Galwegians RFC women have made history after winning the Leinster Cup final at Stradbrook on Sunday.
The Galway city outfit enjoyed a comfortable victory by 22 - 3 over Old Belvedere, who had hoped to emulate their male counterparts who claimed this season’s All Ireland League division one title.
Galwegians, forced to play in Leinster because of a lack of competition in Connacht, enjoyed a fruitful run in the campaign, clocking up an impressive 53-5 over Longford before seeing off Navan by 12 - 5 en route to Saturday’s final.
No strangers to each other, the Dubliners and Galwegians had met on four previous occasions this season. Old Belvedere had claimed a one-point victory in the first match, but Galwegians took a 2:1 advantage into the final. That included an 18 - 11 win in the All Ireland Cup before Galwegians lost to winners UL Bohs, also away from home, by 3 - 0 in the semi-final.
On Saturday, however, the honours of bringing the Paul Flood Cup across the Shannon fell to Galwegians’ captain Emer O’Dowd.
“We have worked so hard, had our hearts broken a couple of times, but we have come so far from the start of this season. The Paul Flood is a wonderful reward for a wonderful campaign,” she said.
Old Belvedere struck first, rewarded for an early foray with a penalty on seven minutes, but Galwegians were quick to capitalise when a poor clearance provided right wing Sarah Healy and fullback Ali Miller with the chance to counter from the halfway. Miller, who broke one tackle and evaded two more, scored under the bar, with outhalf Claire Raftery adding the extras for a 7 - 3 lead.
Galwegians then suffered a sinbinning, but managed to deny Old Belvedere who produced a sustained attack on the Galwegian line. Instead it was the Galway outfit that broke through again when lock Tina Fitzgerald grabbed the second try which Raftery again converted.
Raftery’s astute line-kicking put pressure on Old Belvedere, while O’Dowd, prop Ruth O’Reilly and substitute Carol Staunton continued to tackle like demons. Centres, former international Nuala Ni Chadhain and Grainne Egan, began to find space through the midfield from which left wing Lisa McDonagh and Miller capitalised. However it was Sarah Healy who posted the third try to seal a deserved victory for the Wegian women.